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Nippon Steel’s Profit Forecast Lags Estimates; Shares Fall

Steam rises from Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.'s Kimitsu Works steel mill in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
Steam rises from Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.'s Kimitsu Works steel mill in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., the world’s larger steelmaker by market value, forecast full-year profit that lagged analyst estimates. Its shares fell.

Net income may be 200 billion yen ($2.04 billion) in the 12 months ending March 31, the Tokyo-based company said today in a statement. That compares with the average estimate of 232 billion yen from 18 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Nippon Steel, formed by the merger of Nippon Steel Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. on Oct. 1, 2012, pared earlier gains, dropping as much as 12 yen, or 3.5 percent, to 328 yen in Tokyo trading after the release. The company closed down 2.7 percent at 331 yen.

“Our second-half results will be affected by plans to reline the No. 4 blast furnace at the Yawata Works and the non-recurrence of valuation gains booked on foreign currency-denominated assets due to currency fluctuation,” according to a statement released by the company.

Chairman Shoji Muneoka has vowed to accelerate cost cutting targets by reorganizing its inherited steelworks in Japan as it seeks to fend off competition from Asian rivals. That push will continue, according to today’s statement. 

On a current profit basis, the company raised its forecast, saying it now expects full-year current profit of 340 billion yen, up from an earlier 300 billion yen outlook. Annual sales are forecast at 5.45 trillion yen. The new profit target is still below the 365 billion yen analyst estimates.

Investor Expectations

“Investors expectations were too high,” said Shinya Yamada, an analyst at Credit Suisse Securities Japan Ltd. “The outlook the company provided today was weaker than the market consensus,” he said.  

Posco, South Korea’s biggest steelmaker, last week cut its 2013 sales forecast for a second time after reporting a 22 percent decline in third-quarter profit.

Nippon Steel has set aside 5 billion yen to increase employee bonuses next year because it expects an earnings recovery this fiscal year, Executive Vice President Katsuhiko Ohta told reporters today in Tokyo. The average bonus for employees will increase by 20 percent to 30 percent next year, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Masumi Suga in Tokyo at msuga@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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